There is no question, based on recent federal court decisions, that Republican North Carolina lawmakers, through illegal racial gerrymandering, and unconstitutional voter restriction, have attempted to suppress the African-American vote in recent high profile elections.
However, thanks to major federal indictments handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller per his investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election to ensure the election of Donald Trump, we now know Russian operatives in this country worked diligently to suppress the Black vote that was expected to go to Democrat Hillary Clinton, so that her Republican opponent, Trump, could win.
And there is evidence that some of those Black voter suppression efforts took place right here in North Carolina, all to cripple Clinton’s campaign to maximize the Black vote.
The indictments against 13 Russian operatives detail efforts to use everything from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to “create thematic group pages” which included the Black Lives Matter movement “with group names including Blacktivist.”
From page 18 of the 37-page federal indictment, “In or around the latter half of 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators, through their organization controlled personas, began to encourage U. S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third party U.S. presidential candidate (who was Jill Stein).”
The indictment continued, “On, or about, October 16, 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators use the organization controlled Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to post the following message, “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote for Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
The indictment then went on to detail that on Nov. 3, 2016, an ad was taken out to promote a post on the Instagram account “Blackitivist” that read in part, “Choose peace and vote for Jill stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
To pay for political ads, the defendants established various Russian bank accounts and credit cards and also paid for political ads with Paypal accounts. Some of those ads would say, “ You know a great number of Black people support us saying that #HillaryClintonIsNotmyPresident” and “Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve the Black vote.”
And, again according to the Mueller indictments, Russian conspirators sponsored “Down with Hillary” rallies, and would invite unwitting American activists to take part.
One of those activists was Conrad James of Raleigh. According to published reports, James was approached in September 2016 by a woman claiming to represent a group known as “BlackMattersUSA, asking him to speak at a rally in Charlotte. James is quoted in the report as saying that the group, “ …was definitely trying to stir up trouble.
Mr. James was contacted for this report by email Monday evening and asked, “Do you feel that you saw evidence of Russian involvement in the 2016 election here in North Carolina?”
Conrad James’ reply was, “Yes, definitely, as far as voter suppression.”